Catriona

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But how do you think I would enjoy this, that has

the life of my kinsman on my conscience?"

"Troth, I think you would enjoy it ill," said I.

"And now you see how it is," he concluded, "and why, when you tell

me your evidence is to be let in, I laugh aloud in your face."

It was now my turn. I laid before him in brief Mr. Simon's threats

and offers, and the whole incident of the bravo, with the

subsequent scene at Prestongrange's. Of my first talk, according

to promise, I said nothing, nor indeed was it necessary. All the

time I was talking Stewart nodded his head like a mechanical

figure; and no sooner had my voice ceased, than he opened his mouth

and gave me his opinion in two words, dwelling strong on both of

them.

"Disappear yourself," said he.

"I do not take you," said I.

"Then I'll carry you there," said he. "By my view of it you're to

disappear whatever. O, that's outside debate. The Advocate, who

is not without some spunks of a remainder decency, has wrung your

life-safe out of Simon and the Duke. He has refused to put you on

your trial, and refused to have you killed; and there is the clue

to their ill words together, for Simon and the Duke can keep faith

with neither friend nor enemy. Ye're not to be tried then, and

ye're not to be murdered; but I'm in bitter error if ye're not to

be kidnapped and carried away like the Lady Grange. Bet me what ye

please--there was their EXPEDIENT!"

"You make me think," said I, and told him of the whistle and the

red-headed retainer, Neil.

"Wherever James More is there's one big rogue, never be deceived on

that," said he. "His father was none so ill a man, though a

kenning on the wrong side of the law, and no friend to my family,

that I should waste my breath to be defending him! But as for

James he's a brock and a blagyard. I like the appearance of this

red-headed Neil as little as yourself. It looks uncanny: fiegh!

it smells bad. It was old Lovat that managed the Lady Grange

affair; if young Lovat is to handle yours, it'll be all in the

family. What's James More in prison for? The same offence:

abduction. His men have had practice in the business. He'll be to

lend them to be Simon's instruments; and the next thing we'll be

hearing, James will have made his peace, or else he'll have

escaped; and you'll be in Benbecula or Applecross."

"Ye make a strong case," I admitted.

"And what I want," he resumed, "is that you should disappear

yourself ere they can get their hands upon ye. Lie quiet until

just before the trial, and spring upon them at the last of it when

they'll be looking for you least. This is always supposing Mr.

Balfour, that your evidence is worth so very great a measure of

both risk and fash."

"I will tell you one thing," said I. "I saw the murderer and it

was not Alan."

"Then, by God, my cousin's saved!" cried Stewart. "You have his

life upon your tongue; and there's neither time, risk, nor money to

be spared to bring you to the trial." He emptied his pockets on

the floor. "Here is all that I have by me," he went on, "Take it,

ye'll want it ere ye're through. Go straight down this close,

there's a way out by there to the Lang Dykes, and by my will of it!

see no more of Edinburgh till the clash is over."

"Where am I to go, then?" I inquired.

"And I wish that I could tell ye!" says he, "but all the places

that I could send ye to, would be just the places they would seek.

No, ye must fend for yourself, and God be your guiding! Five days

before the trial, September the sixteen, get word to me at the King

Arms in Stirling; and if ye've managed for yourself as long as

that, I'll see that ye reach Inverary."

"One thing more," said I. "Can I no see Alan?"

He seemed boggled. "Hech, I would rather you wouldnae," said he.

"But I can never deny that Alan is extremely keen of it, and is to

lie this night by Silvermills on purpose.

Catriona Page 38

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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